Part of my quest to live a healthier lifestyle has involved reducing the amount of chemical assistance I provide my body each day. A few months ago I was taking an anti-inflammatory drug for my bruised kneecap, ibuprofen when needed for pain, my daily high blood pressure pill and two daily doses of amphetamine (generic Adderall). As of right now, only the high blood pressure pill remains.
The Fog that Hangs Over My Mind
Precious few people know my history with Adult ADD, until now. I’ve been diagnosed with ADD twice, once back in 2003 and again in 2008. Both times, I was struggling at work and feeling like I couldn’t get on top of things. My mind was all over the place, the background noise was loud and unceasing. I sought help.
After being diagnosed in 2003, I took Strattera for a few months but found it ineffective so I stopped. Flash forward five years to another city and another psychologist. He recommended Adderrall XL to my primary care doc, who then prescribed it for me. It was also largely ineffective, not to mention pricey. I settled on old fashioned amphetamine (generic quick release Adderall) and began taking it twice a day – once when I woke up and again mid-afternoon.
At first I thought it was a cure-all. I came alive within 20 minutes of taking it. Clearer mind, more focused, and talkative. I relied on it instead of sleeping the proper amount of hours each night. Getting by on less than 6 hours was no big deal when the little orange pill awaited me in the morning.
I got on top of things at work and felt more in control. I became more social and engaged. The side effects were minimal and very manageable. By the way, it was a great help in my weight loss efforts too.
The Honeymoon Ends
But after reading “The Blood Sugar Solution” by Dr. Mark Hyman, my views of drugs changed drastically. I started seeing amphetamine for the crutch it was. I never abused it, but I did come to rely on it. Taking it every morning and afternoon gave me a sense of security, albeit a false one.
It was also at that time I started noticing how the boost amphetamine gave me felt artificial. Although I can’t exactly describe the feeling, imagine just feeling odd – like something is carrying you along but it isn’t you. I could actually sense it was a chemical, not a substance my body produced on its own. That’s when I knew I had to stop taking it – for good.
I was afraid, mind you. I didn’t want my performance at work to suffer. I didn’t want my demeanor at home to suffer. I didn’t want to wake up tired and stay tired all day. Fortunately, what I wanted outweighed what I didn’t want.
I wanted to know my abilities were no longer chemically enhanced. I wanted to feel normal again. I wanted the gifts God gave me to shine, the way He intended them to.
No One Said it Would be Easy
The first week or two were tough. I was tired and because I was tired, I was irritable. Because I was irritable I wasn’t fun to be around at times. Jennifer thought I may have made a mistake in just stopping. I knew it would be tough but I kept going. I made sure to put some additional safeguards in place so any decline in my performance would be mitigated.
I got better at making lists. I reverse engineered my day and focused on sticking to a schedule. Most of all, I identified other supplements to help do similar things to what amphetamine did – only naturally. I increased my dosage of Omega-3 fish oil and added an amino acid called L-Tyrosine. I upped my daily Magnesium intake, along with increasing my dosage of several other essential minerals.
I don’t feel that zeroed in feeling every day, but I feel it more often than I thought I would. I can’t think about 3 or 4 things at once anymore but that’s actually a good thing because I can give one thing my full attention. Best of all, I feel like me again – not me with a little help – just me, the man God made to do His work.
Question: Have you ever struggled with dependence on a prescription or non-prescription drug? What fears did you have about getting off the drug and how did you deal with them? I’d love to read your story in the form of a comment below…